Tag Archives: gentrification

Morning Matters — 4/9/12

9 Apr

Lots of young art enthusiasts were at the Andrew Freedman home over the weekend for a fabulous exhibit on two floors of the reimagined buildings and the mobile unit of the fledgling Bronx Children's Museum. (Photo: J. Moss)

Good morning … well, afternoon (At least I started this in the a.m.:-) Lots to catch up on. Bronx artists and their advocates say the borough is undergoing an unprecedented coalescing of efforts to make an already interesting art scene more robust and visible to a larger audience. The expansive art show at the long-empty upper floors of the Andrew Freedman Home, where I took the picture above yesterday, signals a turning point, say some artists and enthusiasts.

As Bob Kappstatter surmised a couple of weeks ago on Bronx Matters, when Gov. Cuomo appointed Bronx Assemblyman Peter Rivera to be state Labor commissioner he probably was acting on the certainty that an investigation into his dealings with a failing nonprofit no longer had legs:

“Gov. Cuomo’s appointment also apparently quashes once and for all a dark legal cloud Rivera’s been living under involving his pumping major state funding to the just about moribund Neighborhood Enhancement for Training Services (NETS) non-profit.”

But that doesn’t mean the tabloids got the memo. This morning the Daily News highlighted four lawmakers with ethics issues who Cuomo has appointed to important positions, including Rivera. As attorney general, Cuomo began the investigation into Rivera and NETS ,but after he was elected he appointed Rivera to a transition committee on labor and economic development. More background on Rivera and NETS from the Bronx News Network here and here.

Our post on Friday about The New York Times’ coverage of Heritage Field, the new baseball diamonds built on the footprint of the old Yankee Stadium, started a little bit of a chain reaction in the blogsphere. After Neil deMause in Field of Schemes (the pre-eminent source on up-to-date information on stadium projects and financing nationally) and Norman Oder in Atlantic Yards Report linked to Bronx Matters, starting a comment conversation on the latter about the the Times’ overall coverage (or lack thereof) of the entire Yankee Stadium controversy. Later on, Oder posts a letter that Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates wrote him with a blow-by-blow account of how reporter Winnie Hu went about covering the story and Croft’s critique about what he feels she glaringly left out.

The latest HuntsPoint Express, a terrific print & web monthly produced by former Riverdale Press editor/publisher Buddy Stein with his students at Hunter College, is out with some critical articles, especially on the DOE’s plans to close Banana Kelly High School and the ensuing protests. There’s also a follow-up web-only article about a DOE official meeting with teachers and parents on April 4 in the school’s cafeteria.  The DOE’s Panel for Educational Policy will decide at a meeting on April 26 whether it will go ahead with plans to close 33 schools.

The Norwood News has an update on the city’s process for choosing a developer for the Kingsbridge Armory, including a report on the rally held by the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance late last month. Community and labor activists are calling for “wall-to-wall” living wage jobs at the Armory regardless of who develops the facility. Contenders include a group calling itself the Kingsbridge National Ice Center and the a partnership between the National Cycling Association and the New York Gauchos youth basketball program.

Also in the Norwood News, Gregory Lobo Jost, expands on his recent piece on Bronx Matters picking apart assertions of south Bronx gentrification, explaining why a few hundred white people over a decade, not to mention arugula, yoga studios, and farmers’ markets (which Norwood is home to) do not equal gentrification, and why its reckless to assert that they do.

Capital New York takes a detailed look at the complications for racial coalition building that are brought by Bronx/Manhattan state senator Adriano Espaillat’s challenge to Congressman Charlie Rangel. The latest reality TV show “about oversexed thirtysomething bachelors who still live with their mommies” takes place in the Boogie Down but is probably not an image that will please Bronx boosters.

Morning Matters — 4/5/12

5 Apr

Good morning! As some of you may have noticed, Morning Matters is not an everyday thing at this point. I do it whenever I have time in the morning. Here, though, are some interesting nuggets you probably won’t find with a routine “Bronx” Google search.

As Bob Kappstatter reported on Bronx Matters in a previous post, Luis Sepulveda is ramping up a campaign to fill Peter Rivera’s Assembly seat when he becomes state Labor commissioner. Sepulveda now has a one-page website up, with a letter that addresses readers as “constituents,” (a little premature since they won’t be actually be his constituents unless his elected to represent them in the state legislature). The rest of the web site appears to be under construction but a tab titled “To NYS Assembly page” inexplicably leads to the website of Queens Assemblyman Fernando Moya.

The Center for Working Families has released a report on the campaign contributions of former State Senator Pedro Espada, who is currently on trial for allegedly stealing money from the Soundview Healthcare Network, which he founded and managed. Among the report’s findings are that Espada’s fundraising increased sixfold when he became chairman of the Housing Committee and that only 3(!) of those contributions came from within his district.

Daniel Beekman drills down a bit into Census data to find that many more Manhattanites have moved to the Bronx in the last decade, but that may not at all signal gentrification, as many of those intra-city migrants were at or near the poverty level. For more on the controversy concerning whether the south Bronx is gentrifying, which was a hot topic on Bronx Matters last week, click here.

The Riverdale Press reports that the top offender on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s “worst landlord” list is Riverdale resident Josh Neustein, who owns several violation-plagued buildings. Neustein said his “estranged sister,” Amy Neustein made false reports to the city’s housing agency and its Department of Investigation. But she says she is backed up by tenants complaints and the city’s own work examining those complaints. Earlier this month, Amy Neustein wrote this piece for City Limits explaining why she was shining the light on her brother’s work as a landlord.

Morning Matters 3/30/12

30 Mar

OK, we’re back with Morning Matters. Sorry to miss the last couple of days.

This photo by Ana Brigida is part of her exhibit on public housing conditions, opening tonight, at the Bronx Documentary Center in Melrose.

The Bronx Documentary Center, also in Melrose, has an opening tonight for an important exhibit called, “How the Other Half (Still) Lives: Bloomberg’s Legacy?” by Ana Brigida about conditions in public housing.

Speaking of Melrose, Legal Services is developing a building on a vacant lot near the subway station in the neighborhood’s southern end on Brook Avenue and East 149th Street.

Have you read the incredibly intelligent conversation taking place on Gregory Lobo Jost’s post on the Times declaring gentrification taking root in south Bronx? I’ve been meaning to mention that this isn’t the first time the Times has weighed in on south Bronx gentrification. This piece by the same reporter, Joseph Berger, focused on the artists and professionals heading to the Clocktower and other buildings in Mott Haven. The appearance of arugula in supermarkets and cafes is also a harbinger of a new scene in that piece. Hey, does arugula mean Kingsbridge is gentrifying? The revamped Foodtown on Broadway and 231st has it as well as a section of specialty beers. Speaking of food and drink, the recent Berger article quotes a resident who found a fantastic Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood, Xochimilco. But that restaurant, which I happened to be at a few days before that article appeared, is in the heart of Melrose, a whole other neighborhood (which has its own incredible story of rebound that I plan to talk more about here) at least a mile and a half away from the Concourse and 160s. (Incidentally, I had the best chicken mole I think I ever had in my lifethere.)

Though teen violence is way up at Riker’s Island, the Bronx DA’s office rarely prosecutes, according to an article in The New York World. The DA’s office says it’s hard to prosecute when victims don’t cooperate but critics say that wouldn’t be case in the world outside of prison.

A popular middle school teacher, Justin Bravo, was killed while riding on his motorcyle in the tunnel on Mosholu Parkway underneath Jerome Avenue and the 4-train. This tragic accident was virtually steps away from where a pedestrian died in December. Norwood News posted the funeral arrangements.

Hunts Point Express documents local efforts to battle the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, including murals to educate youth on their rights at Rocking the Boat.

It’s Official: The Times Declares South Bronx Is ‘Gentrifying.’ But Is it True?

26 Mar

By Gregory Lobo Jost

This time it’s not even a prediction, but a bold declaration that the south Bronx has been gentrified. Based almost entirely on anecdotal evidence, Joseph Berger of The New York Times Metro section has painted a picture of an area of the south Bronx on the Grand Concourse as a new middle class hub where white folks don’t just go for Yankee games.

While the amazing housing stock along the lower Grand Concourse — mostly built in the 1920s and 30s and chock full of art deco gems — is no secret, the area has been largely working class/working poor with a smattering of middle class black and Latino residents (think public sector workers) for the past few decades. (Tip: Read Constance Rosenblum’s Boulevard of Dreams if you are looking for a great book about the housing on the Concourse and its fascinating history. I appropriately read it while on jury duty on 161st Street a few years ago.) Berger simplifies the complicated reasons behind the decline of the area down to “white flight and urban disenchantment,” though to be fair that’s not the point of the article.

The point, rather, is that “more middle-class professionals, many of them white, are … buying co-ops with sunken living rooms and wraparound windows for under $300,000 in Art Deco buildings that straddle a boulevard designed to emulate the Champs-Élysées.” While this is likely true, the question is whether the numbers are significant enough to declare something so controversial as gentrification having already occurred.

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